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Library board renews commitment to transparency



Dec. 16, 2016

Contact: Amy Roth, Communications Manager, 630-264-4125

Library board renews commitment to transparency

AURORA – Aurora Public Library leaders admit they faced many challenges in 2016, but a balanced budget for 2017 and the upcoming kickoff of a three-year strategic plan are reasons for optimism in the new year.

A November notice from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office that the library board’s discussion in closed session went beyond the scope of a permitted exception under the Open Meetings Act is being seen as an opportunity to improve processes during closed sessions, said Library Board of Directors President John Savage. He noted that the attorney general’s office is presently reviewing a second inquiry regarding an equipment failure during recording of closed sessions and maintenance of closed-session minutes. Although no decision has been issued, the Library Board of Directors voluntarily took immediate corrective measures.

“In light of the first ruling, we knew we had to make sure the right procedures were in place going forward,” said executive director Daisy Porter-Reynolds. Board members and senior staff have all been trained in Open Meetings Act law, and the library will have an attorney attend their meetings beginning this month, she said. “I’m confident we now have the professional guidance we need. Going forward, the board and I are committed to making sure we fully understand the law and are in total compliance.”

Steve Silverman, bureau chief of the Attorney General’s Public Access Bureau, said in a November letter to Savage that his office concluded the board violated the act “by discussing in closed session budgetary matters that are outside the scope of the exception” to the act that the board used to close the meeting. The board closed the meeting because it was discussing specific employees and the future of their jobs. But that discussion appeared to leak into general discussion of budgetary items that should have been talked about in open session, Silverman’s letter said.

Silverman noted that the board failed to keep written or recorded minutes of the closed meeting, as is required by the Open Meetings Act. “Our tape recorder malfunctioned, so we were unable to listen to the tape and create minutes as required,” explained Porter-Reynolds.

The library has invested in new technology to record all closed meetings, and will continue to post agendas and minutes on the library’s website as required by law, Savage said.

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